Part Two! This one is long.
When I was a little girl, our family had a lake house down on Cedar Creek Lake. It was my favorite place to be when I was a child. Of course I didn't know to appreciate it the way I would now. It was just there, a part of things, part of our "normal" and a part of our lives. We'd go down there for a weekend getaway when we had no money to go on a vacation. We'd go down there to escape and just be together as a family. We'd go down there for spring and summer holidays. We had the best times down there. Some of my favorite childhood memories are there. I bonded the most with my Grandad while down there. I have a memory of being an itty bitty child, sleeping on the cot that was placed in between the two full sized beds, with Mema and Grandad in one bed. I'd wake up in the morning and Grandad would be awake too. He would reach out his foot to grab my foot with his long toes. We'd squeeze eachother's toes and I remember that it kind of hurt, but I never stopped. I would play toes with Grandad while the rest of the house was asleep. Another Grandad memory I have is when I was getting dressed to go swimming. I was putting on my one piece yellow Cookie Monster swimsuit. The straps on my shoulders were all bunched up and twisted, and I would become so frustrated with them that I would throw a tantrum. I was probably 4 years old and as we all know, a 4 year old will become impatient and frustrated with these little things. I was ready to go SWIMMING and that urgency that I may get left behind took over any rational thought. I cried. I ran outside in a tantrum, raced down the stairs and straight to my Grandad, my hero. He so calmly and patiently untwisted my straps like it was no big deal, which just reassured me that all was right in the world. It's funny how that memory stands out so much for me, and as luck would have it, Mom has a picture of that moment. I need to borrow her photo album to scan that picture. It's one of my favorite pictures out of all of my childhood pictures. I wish I could say that I have a whole lifetime of memories with my Grandad. But I don't. He died during the winter of 1977. My hero was taken from me way too soon.
When I was about 10 years old, Mema sold the lake house. I was very confused about how that made me feel because it was a new emotion for me all together. Sadness, depression, and mourning. A deep sadness that made me have actual physical symptoms. I had never dealt with that before this. It was our last weekend to be at the lake house. The drive down there from Arlington usually took two hours, which was an eternity to a child. We kids never got carsick, but this time I felt carsick. I felt headachy and tired and Mom sent me to go lie down in the bedroom with the twin beds. My sister, Heather, was lying down in the twin bed beside me. As we were laying there, I started to cry. I didn't want Mema to sell the lake house. She went to tell Mom, and then Mema and my aunt Valera laughed about me crying over that. Like "How silly!" But I don't think they realized how important that place was to me. I don't think that *I* even realized how important that place was to me at the young age of 10. Maybe deep inside I knew. But I think it felt like we were leaving Grandad behind. Because to this very day, I feel like Grandad is there, waiting for us to return to him. I was "home" there. It was where I always felt like I belonged. I have never gotten over the loss of that beloved place.
The next year, the summer that I was 11, Mema took me to my great aunt Mary's house on Holly Lake. She lived on a smaller pond that was just near Holly Lake, and her grandsons Michael and Richard would come and spend the week. We had the most fun out there. I was where I belonged, in the muddy water, playing, feeling carefree, leaving my stresses and worries behind, laughing, being a child, catching bugs, catching frogs, fishing, swimming, getting sunburned, and bonding with my cousins. I feel like Mema gave me this gift because I was the youngest grandchild and had the fewest years to spend at our Cedar Creek lake house. I will always be grateful to Mema for giving me this most precious gift. I got to know Michael and Richard more than my first cousins ever did, and I got to bond with Aunt Mary in a way that my sister and first cousins never got to. They had more years with Grandad than I did, and more years at Cedar Creek Lake than I did. Mema took me back to aunt Mary's house the next summer, when I was 12, so that we could spend a week once again with them. What a blast we had. I grew to absolutely adore Michael and Richard and hated that I only got to see them at the reunions and during these summer visits. To this day, I feel a strong bond and connection with the two of them. Life has taken them so far away from me, not necessarily in miles but in spirit. They have jobs, lives, families, and very little time for that annoying cousin Melody. But I would drop everything for them if they ever needed me. I have tears in my eyes as I type this. They mean the whole world to me. Growing up the youngest sibling, the youngest cousin, and the misfit in school and amongst friends, I was not always accepted or included, even as a child. Actually it was most often as a child. I had my Suzanne to grow up with and be at my side through everything, but I grew up always feeling like the bratty, tag-along little sister or cousin that was dorky, silly, awkward, the social misfit, and annoying in every way. But I never felt that way with Michael and Richard. They accepted me and we were a team. It was such a short time, but that short time stands out so vividly in my mind and is most cherished and dear to my heart. If I could ever revisit times of my childhood it would be during those visits with them. Or those weekends at Cedar Creek Lake. I belonged at the lake. I was home there.
But it wasn't long after that that Mary sold her house and there were no more visits to Holly Lake. But luck was on my side! Suzanne's Dad had met and married Cathy, and Cathy's brother had a place on Possum Kingdom Lake. Suzanne and her siblings had every other weekend with their father, and I was "one of them" since the age of 4 so they would always bring me with them. And during the spring and summertime, we'd go to Possum Kingdom Lake. I don't know for sure what age I was, I think it was the summer I was 14 and the summer I was 15. This was my time with Suzanne. We spent the most time together out there, bonding, swimming, getting burnt to a crisp, laughing, we slept in the back of the pick up truck once when a lot of family came to spend the weekend. I think this was the 4th of July weekend. We slept under the stars! There was also the night that Suzanne and I went to a neighbors dock and just sat in the dark and talked, for hours and hours it seems like. We made our way back to the house and the adults were still up, playing cards and laughing. Those were the best times. Once again, my fondest memories were spent at the lake. I don't know what happened after that, I think Cathy's brother sold the place or he moved, but we didn't go back. Maybe they did, but I have never been back. Suzanne and I grew into those high school years and later had boyfriends, who we both later married, and life pulled us in so many different directions. But, once again, those memories are near and dear to my heart and they are mine to keep forever. I felt like I was home at that lake.
The years have flown by, but for as long as I can remember, my dream has been to have my own lakehouse. Life has other plans and the finances just don't allow for it. I did get to live in Corpus Christi for six months, in an apartment complex on a bay. I could stand in my front doorway and see the water in the bay. Cayo Del Oso bay, I believe it was called. A bay inside of a bay. It was beautiful! Almost a dream come true. We spent our weekends at the beach, swimming in the ocean, getting sunburned, I got stung by a Portuguese man of war and was afraid to swim in the ocean for a long time after that. But I was living near the water! I just wasn't happy. My ex husband was not kind to me at all and I spent that summer praying about what I was supposed to do. I feel God led me to leave and return "home" to Arlington and start my life over there. So I did.
There were a few vacations over the years to visit the ocean, and I am so drawn to the ocean. I'd love to live there, but it isn't my home. It's what I desire, but it isn't my home. The lake is my home and I've felt it down to my bones for as long as I can remember.
One year, on our anniversary, Jim and I drove down to Cedar Creek Lake so I could see the old lakehouse. I had really missed it over the years. I hadn't seen it since I was 10 years old and I wanted to see it again. We followed the map and drove down, but I had no idea how to find that street. I just remembered landmarks and bridges. We drove around for what seems like HOURS. It wasn't to be found anywhere. Back and forth, this way and that. I was having a meltdown and I said out loud "Okay, Grandad! Show me where it is!" And then we just happened to find the street. I said "this might be it, go down this street." I continued to talk to Grandad in my mind and as we drove, I suddenly yelled out "Stop! That's IT!!!" And there we were! There was the lake house. All cute, blue, and still as I remembered it. (just a different color, and no Stanley sign on the outside.) Thank you, Grandad. I wrote down the address and stared a little bit more, then we were on our way. This was in 1999. That next week at work, I typed up a letter and sent it to that address and told the owners of the house that if they ever wanted to sell it, please contact me. I think the letter came back undelivered because the address wasn't a mailing address at that time. I assumed it wasn't meant to be, but my dream never went away.
So, almost a month ago, I suddenly had the urge to go down there again. We've been living in Palmer for ten years now, which is about halfway to Cedar Creek Lake from my childhood home in Arlington. I had been confined to my couch for a week, in pain, and was so stir crazy that I couldn't stand it anymore. I was hit with a horrible wave of depression and loneliness that happens with every spring flare-up. I couldn't take it anymore. When I have moments like this, I am desperately trying to find things that I can do to relieve the emotional pain. And I was suddenly remembering my most cherished childhood memories. I wanted to go where my happiest times were spent to help cure the blues. I wanted to drive down to see the lake house again. It was pulling me there like the strongest magnet in the world. I simply had to get down there right away, so we drove down there. This time we had a better idea of where to go. I'd been looking at Google maps and knew right where to go. It took some time, and we even had to pull over to make sure we were on the right path, but we were. And this time we found it with much more ease and there it was! My pretty lake house, blue and whole, same as it ever was. There were a few changes underneath the front of the place, and the boat house wasn't there anymore, and it appeared that they use the area between the two docks for swimming. We never swam in that spot as children due to the big ugly stump that was in the water. I was terrified of that stump! But that stump wasn't there anymore. The water was very low since we're in a little bit of a drought. But I totally trespassed and walked down to the waters edge and I shed a few tears as I remembered my times with Grandad, and the summertimes spent at that wonderful place. This is my home. I belong there. No doubt about that. I have never felt more sure of anything that I can remember. I belong there.
Well, since that day I have been obsessing about lake front property in the Cedar Creek Lake area. It has taken over my life the last few weeks. I now have a picture of our old lake house on my desktop and on my phone. I stare at the pictures every single day and visualize Jim and I living in that house. It's small, maybe smaller than my own house, but I feel like I belong there. Maybe I don't belong in that same place but I belong on that lake. I look at available property every single day and I have been doing so for nearly a month now. Life has thrown us some curve balls this year and we struggle to make ends meet as we try to pay off the expenses we have recently had to charge on credit cards. We've had to give up a lot of things and cut our grocery budget in half, and some months we can barely scrape by. Yet here I sit, dreaming of how we can purchase our lake house. I cannot remember ever wanting something so badly in my whole life. This is something I've been dreaming about and wanting since I was a little girl, that's a long time! And why now? Why now when we are having such a difficult time? I told Jim that I would be willing to sell off every single one of my collectibles if I could have my lake house. And I meant that. I have closets full of Barbie dolls, Hallmark ornaments, other figurines and collectibles. They aren't worth a whole lot individually but if I sold off a great deal of what I have, we might be able to put a dent into the debt. But I don't see it buying us a lake house. I've started looking at jobs. I don't know what I would qualify for with my pain levels and limitations. I don't feel like I am completely disabled, my body is able to do a lot of things that most fibromyalgia sufferers aren't able to do, but I do have some really bad days where I cannot put forth 100%. I have a guilty conscience and if someone is paying me to do a great job on something, I will put forth 100% and then suffer through the pain later on when I'm alone. But if I were to go back to work full time, I wouldn't be able to spend the next day recuperating on the couch. Right now my muscles still feel the burn from this last spring flare up. Yes, it's summertime now, but I'm still recovering from that flare up. I'm back in therapy and going to my every other week chiro visits. It's just taking its sweet time putting me back to where I consider my "normal." I just don't know what I can do to bring in enough of an income to make my dreams come true. If you read my last blog, you'll see where I talked about how incredibly hard Jim works at his job. Ten hour days, plus he checks his work emails in the evenings and weekends. He doesn't have anything left in him to work a second job, so it's all up to me. I just don't know where to begin. I feel like this is something that is meant to be, I am feeling this pull that is stronger than ever and it feels so right. It feels like it's so close I can touch it. It feels like my meant to be. It feels like there is nothing that is going to stop this from happening. But there is. There are a lot of things standing in my way. So I sit here feeling anxious and antsy, like I need to start working towards my goal. I have been praying every day for the answers as to how it is going to happen. I feel so strongly that God is leading me, guiding me, shoving me in that direction. And I know from experience that when God has a plan, His plan will follow through. If He is guiding me in a direction, He will give me the tools, I am just opening my heart and mind to receive the answers He is giving me on how to make this happen. Because it is happening. There is no doubt about that. I have never been more sure of anything. This is going to be my reality. It is my reality. My lake house is finally coming back to me.
So now that I've shown the world that I'm completely loony tunes, I hope you won't think so when I am proud owner of a lake house and you are welcome to come visit me there. :)